A damp, cold spring and a hot, dry summer shaped Louisiana agriculture in 2010. But despite the contrast in weather, Louisiana farmers, overall, had a fairly successful year, said Kurt Guidry, LSU AgCenter economist. Prices were strong, yields were high, and the harvest for most crops was good.

“This will be the first time in two or three years when you look at all the major row crop commodities that we have a statewide average that’s going to be average, above average or even approaching record levels,” Guidry said.

Weather had a greater effect on earlier-harvested crops such as corn. Some areas of the state received rain at crucial times during the growing season, while others areas remained dry. This led to farm-to-farm variability in crops such as cotton. 

“In some areas they had 1,200 pounds in terms of yields. In other areas they had 400 or 500 pounds,” Guidry said. “Again, that was primarily a function of the drought.”

In rice, yields were above average, but Guidry says the situation could have been better.

“It was impacted by the drought and hot temperatures that we had early in the year. And then we got some rains, and it brought in a lot of humidity and created the situation for disease pressure on the rice.”

Production costs edged up a bit in 2010 and will likely stay up.

Prices are strong for most commodities except rice. This will affect what farmers plant in 2011. Guidry said he predicts corn and soybeans will see the largest increases in acreage.

“I think rice will be down a little bit,” he said. “Corn and soybeans will jostle for acres; we may see a little switching back and forth. Cotton will be up, but I think only fairly marginally – maybe 10 percent.”

At the end of 2010, farmers are in a better position than they were a year ago. Rough weather in 2008 and 2009 left soybeans, cotton, sweet potatoes and sugarcane heavily damaged. With 2010 being fairly uneventful, farmers were able to make a decent crop and in many cases even a decent profit.